Kashmir: The vicious circle of violence

The terrorists struck again in Kashmir on Thursday. In one of the most heavily guarded highways in Pulwama, some twenty kilometres south of Srinagar, they attacked a convoy of CRPF vehicles. Over 40 CRPF jawans were killed, some sixty were injured,                                                                                                          about fifteen of them critically. Authorities suspect the involvement of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in the attack. This insensate violence will not bring the “Kashmir problem” anywhere near a solution. What is likely is that the security forces will retaliate in full force, killing a number of “militants”. Pakistan-sponsored terrorists fail to understand that such attacks cannot weaken the resolve of the people of India to defend Kashmir. Pakistan has tried to “bleed India through a thousand cuts” in Kashmir over the last few decades but failed to annex Kashmir. Successive wars to wrest Kashmir have only brought defeat and humiliation to the Pakistan army. Still they continue to resort to terrorism.
But India, too, has failed to frustrate the objectives of Pakistan in Kashmir. Pakistan, its army and the ISI want to spread disaffection among the people of Kashmir, to turn more and more people against India, to instigate more and more people, especially the youth, to demand azadi. New Delhi has treated the Kashmir problem not as a political problem but purely as a law-and-order problem. The undeniable fact is that we are losing the Kashmiri people. Solution lies in starting a process that will win over the people of Kashmir. It will be futile to insist that New Delhi will not talk to the “insurgents” or “separatists” or “pro-Pak elements.” It is these people who are resorting to violence, killing security personnel and terrorizing the peace-loving people. There is no point in talking those who have accepted Kashmir’s accession to India, those who are not indulging in terrorism and violence, those who are not demanding azadi.
Through an imaginative policy, these people have to be drawn into discussion, interacted with and won over. It is to be admitted that New Delhi, ever since independence, has not tried to understand the sentiments of the people of Kashmir who are smarting under a feeling of being  ignored, of being lorded over, of their sense of amour propre being rubbed the wrong way. The latest carnage in Pulwama will invite retribution by the State, then another carnage, then retribution …. in an endless cycle. This vicious circle of violence has to be stopped once for all. It is for New Delhi to think out of the box, devise an imaginative policy to reach the people of Kashmir and win them over.

Friday, 15 February, 2019